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Money talks in new academic course

Updated: 2013-11-01 12:47
By Wu Yiyao ( China Daily Africa)

Chinese and African universities get down to business in offering unique finance program

Shanghai Finance University, well known for its extensive international program, is expecting its first group of students from the University of Nairobi on a special finance and economics course, the first of its kind between institutions from China and Africa.

The curriculum of the 2+2 program (four-year course) has been designed to give students particular insight into China's financial market and its involvement in development in Africa, which will benefit future financial and trade exchanges between China and African countries.

The program jointly run by SFU and Nairobi University's school of business and department of finance and accounting, will cover investment, corporate finance, financial markets and institutions, financial accounting, taxation and auditing.

Twenty students have been admitted to the program and will start their studies in Shanghai next year.

"As China and African countries are expanding cooperation in various fields, professionals with financial and economic knowledge and experience of studying and working in China will be highly important in moving these joint projects forward," says He Ying, vice-president of the Shanghai Finance University.

SFU specializes in internationalized schooling and attaches great importance to developing cooperation with overseas universities. It has established relationships with universities and organizations in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland and Finland.

Teaching staff at SFU and Nairobi University have been visiting each other over some time to arrange the program. In June, Stephen Nzuve, dean of the school of business, Dr Josiah Aduda, chairman of the finance and accounting department, and Professor S.E.O. Mitema, director of the international programs and links center, visited SFU.

As China deepens strategic cooperation with African countries, cultural and education exchanges have intensified in recent years, and the number of African students studying in China is growing fast. In 2003, according to China's Ministry of Education, 1,793 African students came to China, accounting for 2.31 percent of all overseas students in China. Last year, the number jumped to 27,052 - a 30.41 percent year-on-year growth - representing 8.24 percent of all overseas students in the country.

Chinese colleges have been running courses and programs in African countries teaching Chinese language and culture for many years, but the new 2+2 finance and economics course is expanding academic exchanges beyond these subjects, says He.

Competition for admission to the program is fierce, he adds.

"We talked to over more than 100 applicants in Nairobi, and only 20 students have been admitted."

Students will first spend two years at the University of Nairobi, taking regular courses like their undergraduate peers. Courses, such as Chinese languages and introduction to Chinese society and culture, will help the students when they come to study and live in Shanghai.

For the second two years in Shanghai, courses will include accounting, financial markets, micro and macro-economics, and other modules preparing them for future careers in global finance.

"Understanding of languages and cultures is essential to successful trade between China and African countries," says He. "Confucius Institutes across Africa have been doing a lot of work in this field.

"As an institute with expertise in finance and economics, we find that the 2+2 program will extend students' advantages, boost their professional capabilities, and in the long run help them to play a role in financial activities."

He says both Nairobi University and SFU have observed that financial tools have been increasingly involved in business between China and African countries. Foreign exchange trading, cash settlement, cross-border financing, financial planning, accounting and auditing, and many other functions in an enterprise, require more than just fluent Chinese speakers.

Experience of studying and working in an international environment and local know-how will enable the graduates of the program to handle the challenges and embrace opportunities in their careers, says He.

Aduda, of Nairobi University, says his finance and accounting department "expects the students to work hard, read widely, and to engage in substantial self-learning".

Nairobi is home to offices of several international organizations, and many Chinese companies have their African headquarters in the city. Shanghai, on the other hand, aspires to become an international financial hub and shipping center.

"The program conducted in the two cities may bring students resources beyond the classroom," says He. "The networks students can build up during their learning will also add to their advantages."

SFU has prepared an orientation week for the students to enable them to adapt quickly to living in Shanghai.

wuyiyao@chinadaily.com.cn

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